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Non secular broadcasters are asking the Supreme Court docket to rule on whether or not their paying increased charges to stream music on-line than secular outfits like Nationwide Public Radio violates their First Modification rights.

The Nationwide Non secular Broadcasters Noncommercial Music License Committee says it’s required to pay 18 occasions what NPR pays in royalty charges, that are set each 5 years by the Copyright Royalty Board.

Noncommercial non secular webcasters with an viewers threshold of 218 common listeners have been required to pay a a lot increased charge in 2021 than secular NPR noncommercial webcasters, which the non secular group says quantities to a “two-tier” system.

They are saying the totally different therapy runs afoul of the Non secular Freedom Restoration Act and the First Modification.

“The result’s a two-tier noncommercial charge construction with secular NPR stations on the prime and spiritual stations on the underside,” the group stated in its February petition to the excessive court docket. “This discriminatory therapy elevates secular content material and suppresses non secular speech on-line, placing non secular stations at a extreme drawback within the market of concepts.”

Noncommercial webcasters are exempt from sure types of taxation underneath the Inside Income Code.

The Division of Justice, representing the Copyright Royalty Board and the Librarian of Congress, waived its proper to reply to the petition.

It could take 4 justices to vote in favor of listening to the case for oral arguments to be heard.

The D.C. Circuit Court docket of Appeals sided towards the non secular broadcasters in July, giving the Copyright Royalty Board discretion in setting charges.

The non secular broadcasters are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a non secular liberty authorized group.

“This illegal discrimination forces some noncommercial non secular stations to remain small and limit their listener attain to allow them to afford to stream on-line. The Copyright Royalty Board is violating federal legislation and the U.S. Structure, and we, together with different non secular freedom advocates, are urging the Supreme Court docket to aspect with non secular liberty and free speech,” stated John Bursch, ADF senior counsel and vp of appellate advocacy.

A Justice Division official didn’t instantly reply to request for remark.

The case is Nationwide Non secular Broadcasters Noncommercial Music License Committee v. Copyright Royalty Board and Librarian of Congress.



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